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Is it time for an election administrator?

Campos revives an old topic.

I think it is way past time to get an Election Administrator over at the County and take running the elections out of the hands of the ideologues and partisans. [County Judge Ed Emmett] and the County Commissioners need to do right and hand this function solely over to the professionals. The delays and the confusions from night before last and the major league screw-ups over the [HCDE] boundaries warrants a shift in who should be conducting elections in Harris County. Amateurism and Keystone Cops style handling of our precious votes is unacceptable.

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It also takes way too long for the County to report results. The County Clerk explained to the Chron that Reliant (a County owned facility BTW) had provided them with “garbage” phone lines. When did they discover this? It would seem like they would have run checks on the equipment earlier in the day to make sure all systems were working. They apparently didn’t.

Running the elections, voter registration, and the drawing of precinct lines ought to be the function of one office – period – and this office should be run by a dedicated professional.

Here is what is also bothersome about the other night.

Some folks like the Constable Pct. 1 Zerick Guinn campaign supporters probably went home and to bed thinking that their 787 vote lead would hold up with just 6 precincts out. Two hours and 31 minutes later the County posted the final and “corrected” cumulative reports. Why didn’t they bother to send out a press release or notice out at the time to alert folks of the error since an outcome of a race was severely altered? Commentary isn’t a member of the press but I and others get frequent updates from the elections folks. Why didn’t they let us know? Was it cowardice?

It wasn’t until yesterday morning that some of us noticed the error and began to ask questions. By not immediately putting out a statement explaining the error, the folks running the election were not forthcoming. That’s the wrong message folks running the elections want to send to the public.

[Emmett] needs to step in and show leadership. Elections are the way too important for sloppiness, screw-ups, and passing the buck.

Judge Emmett first brought up the idea of an appointed Elections Administrator for Harris County in May of 2010. It was approved for study in June, was briefly mentioned in September, then fell off the radar after the election. I have no idea where this idea stands now, and as much of a pooch-screw as Tuesday’s election was, I remain at least somewhat skeptical of the idea. Nonetheless, it’s hard to see what the merits are of the current situation at this point. For sure, if there were ever a time to bring the idea up again, this is it.

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2 Comments

  1. David Patronella says:

    Back in the 1980′s Dallas County became the first major county to have an appointed Elections Administrator. There were numerous problems with election canvassing, reporting and political bias in terms of short changing Democratic strongholds with sufficient elections resources including polling locations, ballots and elections personnel. Several bills were introduced by Democratic legislators in the early 1980s to restrain and restrict the powers of Election Administrators and for those of us who lived in Harris County during that time we were glad our county clerk was Democrat Anita Rodeheaver and we did not have an Appointed Elections Administrator.

  2. [...] glad to see the elections administrator idea has been brought up again, because it really does need to be fully debated. It’s hard to say [...]

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